Beekeepers, koi keep patrons interested at HOI Fair

The carnival midway might be one of the premier attractions of the Heart of Illinois Fair, but there also are exhibitions off the beaten path worth looking into at Expo Gardens.

Along with displays for mainstream hobbies such as floriculture, food preparation and photography, space is devoted to more unusual pursuits that might create a buzz among fairgoers.

Creating a buzz

The Heart of Illinois Beekeepers Association is very much a family affair. Laura Schaufelberger sat alongside her father, Marshel Poff, at the organization’s display. At Schaufelberger’s feet was her daughter, dressed in a little bee costume.

“This is our first year manning the booth,” Schaufelberger said. “We’ve only been beekeeping about three years. It’s not like you need 10 years of experience, or that it’s been passed from generation to generation. You can jump right in if you want to.”

Schaufelberger and her dad are relatively new to beekeeping, but they know their stuff and were ready to educate those who visited the booth.

The main draw was a frame full of honeybees.

Poff was on hand to point out the queen bee.

While there is an appeal to seeing bees in action, the association also was there to educate fairgoers on the importance of the insects.

“A lot of it is just promoting balance, the fact that we want to be sustaining our pollinators and keeping the food supply going,” Schaufelberger said. “If the bee population does collapse permanently in our area, which I know sounds drastic, there is a lot of implications as far as not having the fruit trees and some of the vegetables we have in the area.”

Something fishy

Members of the Prairieland Koi Pond Society set up a large display that provided a relaxing setting accompanied by the sound of trickling water.

Ron Kramer owns a pond and was excited by the prospect of getting others interested in doing likewise. Some are eager, while others need more of a nudge to make the leap.

“I was talking to a lady this morning who wants to do something and she was wondering whether she should,” Kramer said. “I hope I convinced her to do it.”

Kramer admits it takes a lot of work, and he spends time doing daily maintenance on his own creation. But he attempted to assure visitors that the work is worthwhile.

“You really can enjoy it,” Kramer said. “It’s very soothing for an evening with your wife or girlfriend.”

You oughta be in pictures

Photos line the walls of the building that’s under the watchful eyes of members of the Peoria Color Camera Club. The fair that continues through Saturday provides them with an opportunity to have their work appreciated by others.

“I think people enjoy looking at these pictures,” Mike Walden said. “For me, as a real amateur photographer, it shows me what I need to do to improve. I think people just enjoy this. I do.”

Walden volunteered to help at the club’s exhibit and submitted four pictures himself.

For those interested in photography, Walden believes the fair provides a great source of inspiration.

“Buy a nice digital camera and start taking pictures,” Walden said. “Come in here and look at these. See what the judges like and see what you like.”

Kyle Diller can be reached at 686-3188 or


Heart of Illinois Fair events for Sunday, July 10

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